“Burt is an extremist for sure. Extreme in love and invention”

Elvis Costello on working with Burt Bacharach, who has died aged 94

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Consummate songwriter Burt Bacharach has died at the age of 94. The co-writer of more than 50 Top 40 hits including “I Say A Little Prayer”, “The Look Of Love”, “Make It Easy On Yourself” and “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head”, Bacharach died of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles.

Most of Bacharach’s hits were written with his long-time songwriting partner, lyricist Hal David, but in 1998 he embarked on an intriguing new collaboration with Elvis Costello, the fruits of which are collected in a box set, The Songs Of Bacharach & Costello, due out on UME next month. You can read the full review in the current issue of Uncut, but here’s an extract from the accompanying Q&A, where Costello talks about the experience of working with one of his songwriting heroes.

The relationship between you and Burt seems incredibly harmonious. Did you ever disagree about anything? Would you have the chutzpah to quibble with his ideas?


If you X-rayed these songs like they do old paintings, you’d be surprised that some ‘Bacharachian’ passages were actually my compositions. When I sketched a bridge that I thought we needed in “This House Is Empty Now”, Burt replaced it with even more dramatic music.

In your sleevenotes, you quote Burt describing himself as “an extremist”. Can you explain?

Making Painted From Memory, Burt told me, “I don’t demand 110 per cent any more, I settle for 98.” Listen
 to the music in the bridge of “Alfie”, for which Hal David wrote: “Until you find the love you’ve missed, you’re nothing.” Burt is an extremist for sure. Extreme in love


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